Business at SALT grows quieter in the winter months. Tourism drops on the island and locals are hunkered down at home next to cozy fires sipping on coffee. To some entrepreneurs this slow season is a bother and a stress; for me, it becomes the perfect time for adventure. With some big changes on the horizon for SALT, I knew that I could not flee the country to sunshine and surf so I traded that vision for one a little closer, the stormy surf of Tofino.
Tofino and its surrounding area is famously vulnerable to the weather patterns of the Pacific Ocean. Because of this it is home to lush moss filled forests that collide with wide sandy beaches. Storm watching, surfing, and the Pacific Rim National Park are just a few draws to this exposed area of British Columbia’s coastline.
In late January I drove up to visit a friend who was rolling around the area in his VW van exploring and living the good life. I have always enjoyed the balance of travelling solo, yet when there is a friendly face to share some adventure with, I’ll never pass that up! I spent 3 days exploring Tofino and its many beaches, finding new hikes and sipping great coffee. On my last day I was sad to leave. Driving home to Salt Spring I knew that I needed to get back to those wild beaches sooner than later. So that is exactly what I did. Two weeks later I ventured out to Tofino once more, on a spur of the moment trip with a friend visiting from the interior of BC. She had never been, and I was on a mission to share the beauty of the wild beaches with her.
Previous trips to the area had always been with family, often walking Chesterman's beach and not many others. This time around, I made it my mission to walk every beach as I knew that being near the ocean would ground my busy entrepreneurial mind and, at the very least, maybe spark something creative!
I had heard from friends that the recent winter storms had washed up loads of plastic debris onto the beaches in Tofino, a fact that is sadly no longer surprising. Having grown up in the boating world decades ago, I watched people throw waste overboard like it was just an acceptable part of the culture. This sort of behaviour has compounded over the years, turning our pristine shorelines into garbage cemeteries.
When I was little, I would excitedly scan tidepools for tiny creatures like shore crabs, sculpins, and anenomes. These days, we are just as likely to find a plastic bottle cap, a length of twine, or some other man-made remnant in these tiny ecosystems. I think most of us will notice, and have a moment of sadness for the obvious pollution, but that is as far as we take it. I know, because I followed that thought pattern for years. What I would love, is if we could all take that thought and apply it to our lifestyles. That bottle cap should remind us that we need to eliminate one-use plastics from our lives, so that we are not contributing to the literal tons of waste ending up in our oceans and washing up on shores. This becomes not only a habit, but a conscious mentality. These small changes in our daily lives will have a resounding affect on global lifestyles, if we can educate each other on the impacts of our consumption.
We can also be leaders by example. I have recently adopted a "No Cup, No Coffee" policy in my life (and at SALT!), which means I have totally eliminated single-use cups and bottles from my life. On my second trip up, my friend and I made frequent stops at awesome coffee shops for our caffeine fixes. By the end of the weekend, she noticed that she had accumulated a significant number of to-go cups on her side of the car, whereas I had only the mason jar I had been re-using. I hadn't said anything, she came to this realization on her own. I took this opportunity to educate her about what I had committed to, and she went from being horrified at herself, to being inspired to follow suit. I was happy to have lead by my own example and know she will take that experience with her into her own life to pass along.
As you may know, decreasing plastics and the effect they are having on the ocean is a huge part of what we are passionate about here at SALT. Well, more to the point our effect as humans on the ocean, is something that we are hugely passionate about. Over the past 2 years, my desire to take care of this planet alongside my passion to live a sustainable life has evolved SALT into a company that is so much more than just clothing. We are here to advocate for our ocean, as it does not have a voice of its own. We strive to do that by offering sustainable options for both your body and your home, and by creating conversations that bring awareness to our impacts.
As much as I wish it could happen all at once, it will be a slow progress towards lasting, sustainable change. As the ripples of these ideals get bigger, the demand for a culture of disposable consumption will fade away, shifting us back to a time when all a child could find on the beach was seashells and memories. That is my hope.